Redundancy: What if I’m offered alternative employment?

Redundancy: What if I’m offered alternative employment?


It is a fact that redundancy situations do happen in schools. The most common reasons raised at Edapt are such as financial savings, perhaps a shift in the curriculum design or a restructuring of support services for example. In this article we will look at one option the employer has to consider as part of the redundancy process. So: What if I’m offered alternative employment? What obligation is there on employers to find an alternative?

The basics of this are that an employer going through a redundancy process must offer ‘suitable alternative employment’ to any employees who are at risk of redundancy if a position is available or becomes available during the redundancy process. It is perfectly possible that having considered it no suitable alternatives exist, but they do have an obligation to consider this.

If a suitable alternative role is available, an employer cannot make the employee redundant without offering it to them.

These articles might be additional helpful reading: Our article on rights during redundancy can be found here. Information on Voluntary Redundancy is here.

What is suitable alternative employment relating to redundancy?

Any role being offered must be ‘suitable’ for the employee in question and there are factors to be taken into account in determining its ‘suitability’.

The key here is to ensure the terms of offer are no less favourable than the old role. This can include location, status of the position and the terms and conditions. It is for the employer to show it is suitable. Be wary if your current contract says you can be deployed at other sites as this may rule out ‘location’ as a factor.

If an employer fails to consider an alternative this can become an unfair dismissal. You need to have worked for the employer for two years for the rules to apply. Any offer needs to have been made before the termination of a current contract and work should begin four weeks after the termination of that employment. 

What should employers do?

Employers must make a clear offer if one is available to the employee. Ideally you should get this in writing to avoid any misunderstandings. This offer should still be made even if it has been discussed previously and rejected by the employee. This is to show the employer is following the process. 

You should receive enough information to make an informed decision about the role being offered. You can also ask for a four week trial period. (the redundancy pay remains an option if it doesn’t work out). An extension can be requested if there is training involved for the role, for example. 

Who is eligible?

Employees who are eligible for redundancy pay are also entitled to be offered suitable alternative employment. So, any employee who has worked for the employer for at least two years at the time that their role ends, should be offered an alternative role, if one is available.

Accepting the offer

If you accept the new role, you will be deemed not to be made redundant and you will start the job under the new accepted terms and conditions. Do ensure you get a job description and contract amendment.

Refusing the offer

An employee can refuse an employer’s offer of suitable alternative employment on the grounds that they deem the the role is not ‘suitable’. It is advised you do this in writing. 

The issue then arises if the offer was ‘a reasonable offer’. Clearly this is impossible to fully define. If an employee unreasonably refuses and offer of suitable employment then they are deemed to have been dismissed on grounds of redundancy but lose entitlement to redundancy pay. 

So who decides?

Clearly, this can lead to disagreement between the employer and employee on the basis that the employee considers their refusal to be reasonable and the employer does not.

If redundancy payments are refused on this basis, then early conciliation at ACAS is advised to try and resolve the dispute. If this is unsuccessful, then ultimately and employment tribunal case might be possible for redundancy pay and possibly unfair dismissal.

ACAS supply some guidance on this topic here.

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.